Enough with the bracelets

Enough with the bracelets

This past Sunday at the Dexcom (NASDAQ:DXCM) event – which is quickly becoming the must attend event at ADA – Diabetic Investor picked up another bracelet this one with the phrase Drive to stop diabetes printed on it. These bracelets along with many others are supposed to show that people are committed to helping fight diabetes. Now we know these bracelets are well intentioned and yes there are many of us who want to win this fight. Yet in all honesty isn’t it about time we stop wearing bracelets and actually do something real that will actually help the millions of patients with diabetes and the millions more who will soon develop diabetes.

While there may some who believe that all is well in the wacky world of diabetes and that the world is filled with exciting new drugs and devices, the truth is things aren’t well  nor are they getting better. Diabetic Investor meet with many companies who had innovative devices or promising early stage drugs but couldn’t help but wonder whether these exciting will ever see the light of day and if they do what will the diabetes market be like when they get here.

Listen the diabetes market is tough enough as it is but it really doesn’t help any that patients with diabetes have no voice with the people who make the rules and control the agencies that regulate the drugs patients take and the devices patients use. Now call us crazy but we foolishly believed that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) the two leading diabetes non-profits were supposed to fill this vital role. Yet where were these organizations when our elected officials were debating and then implanting healthcare reform?

Here is a case in point; everyone knows that competitive bidding is destroying the glucose monitoring industry as we now know it. Yet while Congress was debating this issue the millions of Medicare patients were left to fend for themselves as the ADA decided that the issue was not worthy of their attention. With no voice in the political process Congress did what it always does and hammered away at BGM. Now Diabetic Investor is not by any means saying that reimbursement rates shouldn’t have come down, however it’s one thing to see a reasonable reduction in reimbursement, it’s quite another when those rates are reduced by over 70%.

Now Medicare patients will be basically forced to use inferior products which will come from off-shore companies. Diabetic Investor doesn’t blame DME’s for using these cheap imports they have a business to run and the last time we looked this is America and businesses are still entitled to make a profit. Nor are we saying that each and every cheap import will be an inferior product yet in the past few months we have already seen two major meter recalls and these from well-respected and established glucose monitoring companies. We mention this because the FDA has already public stated that they don’t have the money or staff to adequately inspect or monitor these off-shore providers. Diabetic Investor has said it before and we’ll say it again, just because a monitor is approved by the FDA in no way means that all monitors are created equal.

Speaking of the FDA, an agency which is supposed to answer to Congress, just when will our elected officials understand realize that this dysfunctional agency is standing in the way of patients getting better drugs and devices. Case in point number two, Tresiba® from Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO). Although Diabetic Investor isn’t overly impressed with the drug there is absolutely no sound reason why this drug was not approved by the agency. How can it be that regulatory agencies around the globe approved this drug after seeing exactly the same data submitted to the FDA? Is the FDA that much smarter than everyone else or has the agency gone completely off the reservation? Diabetic Investor knows it’s not the former and likely the later. Isn’t it about time that this agency realize what every respected diabetes researcher knows, as much as we would like drugs which are completely free from any adverse events this is an unreasonable standard.

Just in case anyone is wondering why our elected officials aren’t intervening here and helping the millions of patients who have diabetes, patients who also happen to be registered voters it’s because they aren’t hearing from them. These patients have no voice and like it or not politicians only respond to a constituency when this constituency makes themselves heard. Just in case anyone believes this is not the case just look at the NIH and how the allocate money for research, how can be that HIV receives nearly five times the money that diabetes does? This is not to say that HIV research is not worthy, it is. However diabetes by any measure has a far greater impact than HIV. The simple fact is the HIV organizations made themselves heard and diabetes has not.

Diabetic Investor can’t help but wonder who will take charge here, which organization or company will step up and actually say that enough is enough. That this situation must change as millions of patients are being denied better drugs and devices. When will someone explain that the physicians who help these patients need more tools to fight diabetes, not less. Diabetic Investor has been attending ADA conferences for nearly 20 years and for all the advancements we have seen over the years one glaring fact unfortunately hasn’t changed in that nearly two-thirds of patients are not properly controlling their diabetes.  Everyone in diabetes knows this and we also know that the situation is getting worse and not better.

Change, dramatic change is needed and needed yesterday. The diabetes world cannot continue to delude itself into the belief that everything is ok. This is like watching the Titanic take on water and believing everything is ok because the Titanic is unsinkable. The last thing we need is another conference where we get yet another bracelet, bracelets may be a good public relations move but like the ADA and JDRF they haven’t done much to help the millions of patients with diabetes in the place they need help most, Washington D.C. Patients with diabetes need a voice with the people who make the rules, not another cute bracelet.